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Dimensions: 60.00mm wide, 62.47mm high, 80.07mm deep

I’ve done it. I have modeled and 3-D printed a duck. What does this mean for the incredibly important world of Rubber Ducks? Actually, it doesn’t mean that much.

The question we were given at the start of the quarter was “In a world full of too much stuff, what is worth 3D printing?”. I then took this question and decided to explore Rubber Ducks. Through my research, I have realized that rubber ducks exist pretty much purely for marketing purposes. Side effects of this marketing include a fun way to solve problems¹, and a detrimental effect on the environment². In other words, Rubber Ducks do more harm than good. I mean, it’s not a lot of harm, but the harm exists.

So, they’re pointless. What does that mean about 3D printing? How has it improved Ducks? It hasn’t improved them, as much as it has changed them. Part of the fun of actual Rubber Ducks is that they’re smooth and children can play with them. The design I’ve made is rough, the bill has sharp edges. On the plus side, they aren’t as harmful to the environment. However, their harm is not gone. PLA isn’t completely biodegradable,  which means that printed ducks will still be around for a long time, messing with the world. The only pure improvement with the printed ducks over the regular “traditional” rubber duck is that they aren’t being mass-produced and can’t be marketed as effectively. The printed ducks aren’t better. They’re just different. In some cases, they’re different in subtle ways, and others are drastic.


I was having this quandary before I printed my duck. I didn’t think, based on my research and progress with my model, that 3D printing would affect Rubber Ducks. I remembered, however, that maybe the best thing that Rubber Ducks have going for them is their position as symbols of nostalgia and innocence. They’re funny. They’re cute. The only reason you are reading this, I’d wager, is because you were curious what the hell could possibly come from 3D printing rubber ducks, as did I. Now, having printed a Duck, I have an answer: Nothing. No great revelation has revealed itself to me. No fantastic new utilization has presented itself, for which, Rubber Ducks are perfect. No unfathomable problem is being pondered that could be answered if the person pondering it were to simply look at rubber ducks a little differently. 3D printing has barely changed this at all, simply shifting the environmental destruction from corporations and factories, to people with 3D printers.

“In a world full of too much stuff, what is worth 3D printing?”

I would like to present an answer, though not the answer I expected to give or the answer anybody expect to receive.

Not Rubber Ducks.



¹Rubber Duck debugging, which I have written about several times in other posts.

²I wrote about this in the “Photos” post.